Photo: Gage Skidmore
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) took aim at Donald Trump in a Thursday interview with local Wisconsin radio station WTAQ saying, “He’s had a pretty strange run since the convention.”
Ryan and Trump have certainly not been on the best of terms ever since Ryan’s initial hesitation to endorse Trump in May of 2016.
Weeks later, Ryan eventually offered a cautious endorsement, saying that he would continue to voice his disagreement on any Trump comments or policies that he felt were not true to conservative and Republican principles. Ryan has stood by his claim, continuing to speak out against comments that he disagrees with; particularly the recent comments directed toward the family of fallen Army Capt. Humayun Khan.
Ryan faces challenger and businessman Paul Nehlen in his upcoming Tuesday primary election. His remarks during the WTAQ radio interview came after Trump refrained from endorsing Ryan. During an interview with the Washington Post, Trump repeated four times that he was “not quite there yet” in regards to endorsing Ryan; similar to what Ryan said when was initially hesitant to endorse Trump.
In his radio interview, Ryan said that Trump should have been focusing on attacking Hillary Clinton in recent days with “all of her deficiencies” but instead has been too sidetracked with criticizing the family of Capt. Humayun Khan and conflicts with Republican leaders.
Ryan added, “She is such a weak candidate that one would think that we would be on offense against Hillary Clinton, and it is distressing that that’s not what we’re talking about these days.”
The American Action Forum, a policy institute, recently found that Hillary Clinton’s proposed policy agenda would hike taxes by an estimated $1.3 trillion and still would create a $2.2 trillion budget deficit. It is this and similar issues that Ryan and others have suggested Trump focus on in order to keep his campaign on the right path.
Although both Clinton and Trump have struggled with favorability ratings during the election season, Clinton’s favorability had a boost in the days after the DNC ended while Trump’s fell slightly. Based on data from Real Clear Politics, in the general election head to head matchup, Trump averaged 6.8 points under Clinton on 8/3, while just days before on 7/26 he was ahead of Clinton by an average of about 1 point.
It’s clear that the fallout from the conflict with the Khan family among other comments have had at least a temporary impact on Trump’s favorability. Some commentators like Wayne Allen Root have reminded conservatives that it serves as a distraction from the bigger issues at hand regarding Clinton and the economy.
Others like Howard Kurtz have reminded us that favorability ratings and polling numbers will go through many changes from now until November 8th. If nothing else, Donald Trump has proven that he is resilient to negative media coverage and alternating poll numbers. One primary concern that Kurtz mentioned was Trump’s favorability in key swing states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida as November approaches, all of which Trump would almost certainly need to win.
Although the week after the Democratic National Convention certainly hasn’t been kind to Trump, the reality is that the poll numbers will certainly go through many changes between now and November 8th. What really matters is his numbers in the days prior to the general election.
Anything can change between now and then, including new findings in the Hillary Clinton investigation, more leaked emails, and plenty of opportunities for similar or worse mistakes. Although many Republican leaders like Ryan are calling Trump out for his recent choice of words and falling numbers, over 3 months until the election is an eternity in politics.
Trump did appear to try to mend things a little with Ryan in a Thursday town hall meeting in Portland, Maine, mentioning how he gave his running mate Mike Pence the green light to endorse him. “Paul Ryan’s a good guy actually, I said Mike okay go endorse him.”